Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Picturebook Author Spotlight: Jan Thomas

I was so delighted with The Doghouse by Jan Thomas that I was inspired to check out her other books.  I find myself frequently revisiting and sharing them with others.   My local library recently added her latest book, prompting me to share some of my favorites with my fellow picturebook lovers on the blog-o-sphere.

Jan Thomas has a charming style which is both memorable and interactive.   Children (and adults) are drawn to the simple illustrations and reoccurring characters—animals and dust bunnies.  These characters are often emotionally charged with cheerful excitement or playful fear.  The simple vocabulary, rhyming words, and repetition are ideal for building early reading skills and for practicing early readers.  Her stories often have an ironic twist or humorous situations.   Best of all, the books make the readers and listeners feel like important participants in the story experience.  Check these books out on your next trip to the library or the bookstore. 

Four adorable dust bunnies—Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob love to rhyme all the time!  While the other three are distracted with their exuberant rhyming game, Ed tries to warn them of impending danger.  Instead of listening to him, they correct him.  For instance, they inform him:   “No, Bob…’Look!’ does not rhyme with car!”  Even when he finally gets his whole message out (“Look out! Here comes a big scary monster with a broom!”), the others still do not understand…that is until they see it coming toward them!   They are not out of danger yet though.  Kids will want to rhyme right along with these original characters while enjoying the fun plot turns. 

When the rhyming dust bunnies meet Big, Mean Dust Bunny, they ask him to join their rhyming game.  He declines.  They urge him on anyway.  The Big Mean Dust Bunny lives up to his name…he makes every rhyming round an opportunity to bully the others.  Until, the big fat cat “spats” him.  The others come to his aid (while maintaining their rhyming game), warming his heart and winning him over.  The end pages have a cute twist…and a possible clue for a sequel. 

The book begins with the question, “Will Fat Cat sit on…the cow?”  The concerned cow replies, “Moo?”  The next page reveals, “No!  Fat Cat will not sit on Cow!”  The question continues in a similar fashion with each of the animals until the mouse helps find a solution.  With that resolved, the next question is, “What will Fat Cat have for lunch?”  This query prompts the animals to all flee.  I love the playful banter between the animals, the melodramatic looks, and the exaggerated suspense.  Children are sure to have a blast with this question and answer book. 

A cheery ladybug invites readers/listeners to join in a game of pretend.  They are asked to imagine there is a tiny bug on their nose, in their mouth, and on their shirt (among other things).  When that pesky bug refuses to come off (even after a round of the chicken dance), the ladybug asks readers/listeners to pretend a giant hungry frog is coming to eat the pest.  An unexpected visitor arrives, so she pleas to the participants to make a scary face!   That scary face has a surprising outcome!  Not only does this book encourage interaction, it is sure to elicit giggles and grins.

Out on the prairie, the cowboy tells two cute little cows it is “Time to hit the hay.”  Looking sleepy and content, they listen as the cowboy sings:

It’s time
for little cows
to rest their head.
It’s time
for little cows
to go to bed.
It’s time
for little cows
to sleep so tight.
It’s time
for us to say…

On the next page, the cowboy shrieks, “Eeeeek!”  He sees a shadow and thinks it is a huge hairy spider.  The cows show him it is only a flower.  They try the lullaby again.  Each time, the cowboy becomes frightened by something that turns out to be nothing scary at all.  Until a big giant wolf shows up.  It is okay though.  He LOVES lullabies too.  They all sleep happily ever after.  Kids will love to read a long with this bedtime story, which reassures them there is nothing to fear.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! we love Jan Thomas! These books are great, silly fun.


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